Friday, 9 November 2007

Planet Terror - Review by Robert Duffin

Director: Robert Rodriguez
Screenwriter: Robert Rodriguez
Running Time: 105 mins
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 9th November

It’s no surprise that Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror is arriving on British shores with little fanfare. Unlike the reception that met Death Proof, no movie geeks are rattling their sabres over the callous Weinstein Bros this time around. Of the Grindhouse partnership with Quentin Tarantino, Rodriguez is the lesser filmmaker in terms of cultural significance and, let’s be frank, talent. Yet Death Proof wasn’t given the warmest critical reception and it disappeared from cinemas with its tail between its legs. So, can Planet Terror redeem the doomed Grindhouse project?

Some nefarious military types accidentally release an experimental bio weapon, which is infecting the masses of Austin, Texas so…cue carnage. There’s certainly something endearingly flippant about Rodriguez’s eyeball gouging and penis melting shlock fest. While Tarantino took a contemporary spin on the cinema of his misspent youth, Rodriguez’s effort could have come from the era itself. Planet Terror is a cheap John Carpenter knock-off in which Rose McGowan’s Cherry Darling, she of the machine gun leg, is forced from her life as a lap dancer by the infected and has to team up with her criminal ex-lover El Wray (Freddie Rodriguez) to save the world.

Set to a thumping self composed soundtrack, the film bobs along perfectly fine for about thirty minutes but the charm wears off pretty quickly. When only the scratches, sync-pops, lab exposures and film glitches that have been so adoringly added to the digital video footage are providing amusement, you know there’s something wrong. The gory humour quickly becomes tiresome (a small boy shooting himself in the face with a shotgun for no reason was a low point), and the tasteless cameo of Tarantino, as The Rapist is revolting. As part of the originally conceived double bill experience Planet Terror may have been more tolerable but a bit like Cherry Darling’s severed leg, it lies bedraggled and inadequate once separated from the body of Grindhouse.

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